These stories offer a treatment of love, from the light-hearted to the serious.
Sometimes the relationships in this section are romantic, flirty, or passionate, often between unmarried people.
See also Marriage
See also Unrequited Love
The Chaser | John Collier
A merchant sells a love potion for a surprisingly low price, but he sells another item at a much higher price to make up for it.
Yours | Mary Robison
Allison and her husband, Clark, who is much older than her, spend an evening carving pumpkins until early the next morning.
The Lady with the Pet Dog | Anton Chekhov
Dmitri is unhappily married, unfaithful to his wife, and has a low opinion of women. While on vacation he meets a young woman, also married, and they have an affair. After Dmitri returns to his routine he finds that he can’t stop thinking about her.
The Love-Philtre of Ikey Schoenstein | O. Henry
To ensure his planned elopement goes smoothly, a man goes to a druggist for a love potion. The druggist also loves the woman in question, so he tries to derail the man’s plan.
Springtime a la Carte | O. Henry
A young woman has an arrangement to type the daily menu of a restaurant; one day, the menu makes her cry.
Schools and Schools | O. Henry
A young woman goes to live with her uncle, forming a love-triangle with his adopted son and step-niece.
The Whale | Yves Theriault
A fisherman hooks a whale, but it escapes before he gets back. Of course, no one believes his story, and he’s laughed at – by everyone except Gabrielle, a young woman he’s in love with. He’s determined to prove he’s telling the truth, to impress her.
Marriage Is a Private Affair | Chinua Achebe
A young man, from the Ibo tribe in Nigeria but living in the city, returns home to tell his father he’s engaged. His father is dead set against the marriage and cuts off his son.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love | Raymond Carver
Two married couples sit in the McGinnis’s apartment, drinking and talking about real love. They use their own, and second-hand experiences, to try to define it.
Federigo’s Falcon | Giovanni Boccaccio
A rich man spends all his money trying to woo a married woman. She isn’t interested in him. Later, as a widow, she wants a favor from him that could help her sick son.
The Horse Dealer’s Daughter | D. H. Lawrence
A horse dealer dies, leaving his family of three sons and a daughter, destitute. The sons are making plans for their future, but the daughter refuses to discuss it.
Regret | Guy de Maupassant
A sixty-two year old bachelor thinks about his lonely life, and of a woman that he has always loved.
The Steadfast Tin Soldier | Hans Christian Andersen
A boy gets a set of toy soldiers as a gift. One of the soldiers falls in love with a paper ballerina, but they’re kept apart when he falls from the windowsill and lands outside.
My Life with the Wave | Octavio Paz
A man gets seduced by an ocean wave. It finds its way home to him and they have a tumultuous love affair.
The Fall of Edward Barnard | W. Somerset Maugham
Bateman returns from a trip to Tahiti and goes to see Isabel with news of his friend Edward. After becoming engrossed in native life and culture, Edward has decided not to come back even though he was engaged to Isabel.
A Telephone Call | Dorothy Parker
A woman frets over a late phone call and wonders if she should call him instead.
The Kiss | Anton Chekhov
A man at a dinner party is mistaken for someone else and kissed by an unknown woman in the dark. It affects him deeply and fires his imagination.
The Memento | O. Henry
Tired of the men she has to deal with as a vaudeville performer, Rosalie Ray retires to a small town.
The Count and the Wedding Guest | O. Henry
Mr. Donovan comforts a fellow boarder, Miss Conway, who is mourning the death of her fiancé.
The Romance of a Busy Broker | O. Henry
Amid the rush of a workday, Harvey Maxwell, a broker, is overcome with feeling for a stenographer, Miss Leslie.
Lost on Dress Parade | O. Henry
Mr. Chandler, a man of modest means, saves his money for an occasional night out. On one such excursion, he helps a young woman who has fallen, and asks her to dine with him.
Just Good Friends | Jeffrey Archer
Roger’s significant other chronicles their history and relationship.
The Boarding House | James Joyce
Mrs. Mooney, who runs a boarding house, angles to marry off her daughter to one of her boarders.
Tea | Saki
James, a bachelor, feels the public pressure to settle down and find a wife.
The Tragedy of a Comic Song | Leonard Merrick
A poet and a composer write a song for a woman whom they both love. The song is a big success.
The Pace of Youth | Stephen Crane
Two carnival workers steal glances at each other during work, angering the woman’s father, the carnival owner.
The Coming-Out of Maggie | O. Henry
Maggie, a wallflower, is escorted to a dance by a man who attracts a lot of attention.
Some Like Them Cold | Ring Lardner
After a chance meeting with Mabelle at a Chicago train station, Charles, now pursuing a songwriting career in New York, writes to Mabelle. They correspond, presenting themselves as people of good character, ideal choices for marriage, and generally flirting.
Broken Chain | Gary Soto
Alphonso is a seventh-grade boy who is concerned about his looks. After helping a boy who is stuck on a fence, Alphonso asks the boy’s sister to go bike riding with him. Her bike has a flat tire, so Alphonso says he can borrow his brother’s bike for her. His brother doesn’t want to lend his bike.
Dusky Ruth | A. E. Coppard
A traveler arrives in a country town and enters an inn. After supper he goes to the smoke-room where a woman is sitting by the fire. Her presence stirs his passion.
Read here (Page 345)
Crush | Bonnie Burnard
A teenage girl is painting at home with her mother on a hot day. They’re expecting a delivery soon from Adam, a man whose children the girl babysits. She thinks she’s in love with him. Her mother warns her to make sure she’s covered up before Adam gets there.
LuLu’s Triumph | Matilde Serao
Lulu meets a young man at the races, Roberto Montefranco, and they start courting. Lulu talks about her expectations to her sister, Sofia, who is older and more serious than she.
Read here (Page 449)
Prue | Alice Munro
Prue lived with Gordon when he left his wife for sixteen months. After he got a divorce, they lived together on and off. Prue is likable and looks on the bright side, not taking the disappointments of life and relationships too seriously. The possibility arises to continue her relationship with Gordon.
Cavalleria Rusticana | Giovanni Verga
Turridu comes home after soldiering to find that Lola is in love with another man. Lola marries the other man but when he travels, Turridu visits Lola, causing complications.
The Derelict | Pauline Johnson
Cragstone was full of promise, but proved to be mediocre in all his endeavours. After becoming an Anglican priest, he falls in love with Lydia, a mixed-blood woman who had been dismissed from her post, accused of theft.
The Paring Knife | Michael Openheimer
While a man and the woman he loves are cleaning house, he finds a knife under the fridge. He remembers how it ended up there.
Read “The Paring Knife” (Scroll down to page 4)
Yogurt | Ronald Wallace
A couple who have been fighting a lot are walking home from a yogurt shop when they hear someone running up behind them.
Why You Shouldn’t Have Gone in the First Place | Samantha Schoech
The narrator tells “you” why you shouldn’t meet up with a married man, and how you’ll feel if you do anyway.
Bullhead | Leigh Allison Wilson
The narrator’s mother likes to tell a story about the love of her life. As a teenager she fell in love with the boy next door, and one night they got some time alone with each other.
The Underground Gardens | T. Coraghessan Boyle
Baldasare Forestiere is a thirty-two-year-old Italian American immigrant living on seventy acres of California land. He tries to grow his own vineyard, but the land isn’t fertile. He works for other people to make some money, and starts digging more rooms in his underground home. He eventually meets Ariadne, giving him a new goal – to get her to marry him.
My Date with Neanderthal Woman | David Galef
The narrator describes how his date went with a neanderthal woman, such as what he brought her, where they went, and how they communicated.
Love and Other Catastrophes: A Mix Tape | Amanda Holzer
The song titles on a mix tape are used to tell the story of someones search for love.
The Fatalist | Isaac Bashevis Singer
Benjamin Schwartz, a man in a small town, earns the nickname Benjamin Fatalist. He believes that everything in a person’s life, every trifle, is predetermined. There is an attractive young woman in town with many admirers, but she rejects them all. Benjamin tells her it is fated that they should marry.
See also: Love Song (Nature), The Higher Pragmatism (Sports), The Furnished Room (Journeys), Day Million (Sci-Fi), A Lickpenny Lover (Class)